A judicial clerkship provides direct insight into the judicial process and is a valuable and enriching experience. A law clerk gains practical experience by attending judicial proceedings, performing legal research, drafting memoranda and providing other assistance to the judge. Law clerks also are exposed to the methods and customs of practitioners, including the quality of their work and professionalism. Many former law clerks find the prestige and experience associated with service as a judicial law clerk broadens their future employment opportunities.Temple graduates have served as judicial law clerks with great distinction in courts across the nation, from the United States Supreme Court to state trial courts, from locations as far away as Hawaii to as close as downtown Philadelphia. Students from both the day and evening divisions have held these positions.
Although each judge sets his or her own requirements for hiring a law clerk, there are several characteristics judges traditionally seek. Law school grades are relevant but positions are not limited to those who are in the top 10 percent of the class or on Law Review. Strong academic performance certainly is of value to any candidate. Clerkships in the federal courts are highly coveted and, thus, highly competitive. Therefore, those judges tend to be stricter as far as grades are concerned. State court judges certainly consider grades but usually entertain applications from a broader range of candidates.Nonetheless, such qualities as well-developed legal research and writing skills, intellectual curiosity, motivation, sound judgment, maturity, and prior work experience are some of the factors that they consider. Because of the close working relationship that develops inside the chambers, judges consider the candidate's ability to fit in with the other clerks, secretaries and staff. Participation in moot court activities, trial team, negotiation competitions, and service on law journals can be helpful. Enrollment in clinical courses also can bolster your candidacy. A clear articulation of your ties to the geographic area in which the court sits is helpful.
If you have questions about your credentials, set up a meeting with a faculty member or one of the counselors in the Career Planning Office. Please do not take yourself out of the process prematurely.
Second year students interested in state and federal clerkships should attend the Career Planning informational sessions in February. In order to participate in the organized process managed by the Office of Career Planning, each student must have a meeting with a career counselor, which usually takes place in March. Applications are assembled over the summer and are shipped around Labor Day. We use the deadlines set forth in the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan to manage the process.
For more information, please see a counselor in the Office of Career Planning, and these two helpful websites: https://oscar.symplicity.com/ (for federal) and http://forms.vermontlaw.edu/career/guides/ (for state – passwords for this site are on the CPM).
Summer internships with state and federal judges are also extremely valuable experiences. Judicial internships will expose you to various areas of the law, styles of advocacy and strengethen your understanding of the judicial system. These positions are volunteer, although work study funding is sometimes available.
Many of the judiciary are receptive to part-time clerkships during the school year. Some evening division students have found this to be an attractive option both in terms of the limited time commitment and the opportunity to gain legal experience. You can apply for these positions at any time.
Also, be advised that the Career Planning Office frequently receives position announcements from state court judges across the country and funnels them into Career Planning Manager (CPM) at https://law-temple-csm.symplicity.com/students.